Joseph (Jo) Rotblat: Making The First Atomic Bomb

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Joseph (Jo) Rotblat was a nuclear scientist. He helped to make the first atomic bomb. But for decades he campaigned against what he had helped unleash. Until he died last year, aged 96, he pursued this aim with the dynamism of a man half his age, inspiring others to join the cause. He was born in Poland in 1908. His family suffered great hardship in the first world war but he was exceptionally intelligent and determined, and managed to become a nuclear physicist. After the invasion of Poland, he came as as a refugee to England to work with James Chadwick at Liverpool University. He then went to Los Alamos, New Mexico, as part of the British contingent involved in the Manhattan Project to make the first atom bomb. In his mind there was only one justification for the bomb project: to ensure that Hitler did not get one first. As soon as this ceased to be a credible risk, Jo…show more content…
How can the best science be fed in to the political process? There is an ever-widening gap between what science allows, and what we should actually do. There are many doors science can open that should be kept closed, on prudential or ethical grounds. Choices on how science is applied should not be made just by scientists. That is why everyone needs a "feel" for science and a realistic attitude to risk - otherwise public debate won't get beyond sloganising. Jo Rotblat favoured a "Hippocratic oath" whereby scientists would pledge themselves to use their talents to human benefit. Scientists surely have a special responsibility. It is their ideas that form the basis of new technology. They should not be indifferent to the fruits of their ideas. They should forgo experiments that are risky or unethical. More than that, they should foster benign spin-offs, but resist dangerous or threatening applications. They should raise public consciousness of hazards to environment or
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